7 Ways to Enhance Your Bone Health – Drink alcohol only in moderation

Encourage those you love to stop smoking.
Ask your loved ones to stop smoking for their own bone health — and yours. Harvard researchers studied bone health in more than 14,000 people in China and discovered that nonsmoking women who were exposed to secondhand smoke were three times more likely to develop osteoporosis than women who had no exposure to smoke. The theory is that cigarette smoke may affect levels of estrogen, a hormone that regulates bone turnover. If you can’t persuade the smoker in your life to quit the habit, try to establish house rules that will minimize your exposure, such as only smoking outdoors or by an open window.

Drink alcohol only in moderation.
Drinking alcohol to excess is undeniably harmful to your bones. Heavy drinkers are more prone to bone loss and accidental falls, which can result in fractures. That said, preliminary research suggests that light drinking may actually help preserve bone strength. In a study of hundreds of women ages 65 to 77, researchers discovered that women who did not drink alcohol at all had the lowest bone density of all. Bone density was highest in women who drank two to four alcoholic drinks per week (not per day!). Women who drank more than four alcoholic drinks per week had lower total bone mineral density (although still higher than nondrinkers). Scientists believe that small amounts of alcohol may reduce bone breakdown, perhaps by increasing levels of estrogen. I don’t recommend nondrinkers to start imbibing as a way to maintain bone density — however, if you do drink, you can continue to do so in moderation without fear of weakening your bones. For overall good health, women should limit their intake to no more than one drink per day; men should have no more than two drinks per day.

Even though thin women are generally more susceptible to osteoporosis than overweight women, women who are chronic dieters may also be at increased risk of weak bones regardless of how much they weigh. Studies suggest that years of dieting may have a cumulative negative effect on bone health: Some women eat so poorly that they haven’t taken in the nutrients needed to build or maintain their bone strength. Dieting by severely restricting food intake is never a good idea.

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